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Lawrence superintendent re-ups for four more years

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The “crowd” shuffled into the Lawrence High School cafeteria for the Aug. 5 Board of Education that was highlighted by the announcement that Superintendent Dr. Ann Pedersen’s contract was extended for four years and two teachers earned tenure.

Pedersen, 61, a Freeport resident who has been with the school district 27 years, was named superintendent in 2017. Pedersen began her career in Lawrence as a one-year replacement kindergarten teacher, conducted teacher evaluations and handled conflicts between educators and students.

Thirteen years ago she was named principal of the Number Four School, which is now the Lawrence Early Childhood Center at the Number Four School. Later on she was simultaneously the assistant superintendent assistant superintendent of instruction and curriculum, and added the title of deputy superintendent after Gary Schall announced his retirement in 2016.

“My initial interaction with Dr. Pedersen as a trustee was how we can have the greatest positive impact on our students,” Board Vice President Dr. Asher Mansdorf said at the Monday meeting. “Dr. Pedersen’s response was simple and straight forward: ‘We need them earlier and a full-day pre-K.’ Dr. Pedersen’s stewardship of that program, years before New York City implemented it, has resulted in a 12th grade graduation rate of pre-K students in the high 90s.”

Calling Pedersen a “super superintendent,” Mansdorf listed some of the achievements under the educational leader’s watch. “In addition, we have witnessed the implementation of the Lawrence phone application to enhance school communication, the introduction of one to one Chromebook usage, a vocational partnership with BOCES and Barry Tech and our extraordinary CNA (Certified Nurse Assistant) Program, and the Twilight Program for GED high school equivalency,” he said. “There is much more and what excites me is what is yet to come. It seems like Dr. Pedersen is just catching her breath.”

The new contract calls for a salary schedule of $270,00 for the coming school year; $278,100 for the next school year; $286,443 from July 1, 2021 to June 30, 2022; and $295,036 from July 1, 2022 to June 30, 2023.

Danielle Aronovitz, a speech pathologist at Lawrence Middle School, and Stephanie Rubenfeld, a district technology teacher, were honored for receiving tenure.

The New York State Education Department awarded the school district am annual grant of $250,000 to support the My Brother’s Keeper Program that aims to raise the rate of student attendance, especially for boys of color at the high school. The program, overseen by William Moss, the district’s director for academic affairs, is heading into its third year in Lawrence.

By using what is called seminars in lieu of suspensions or SILOS, the school district has the student and a parent meeting with a teacher and discussing the inapproriate behavior. Applying a curriculum comprised of three major points — attendance, respect for person and property, and relationships — the district reduced its student suspension rate by 12 percent in the program’s first year. In a school year where 27 students took part in SILOS.

Nearly 30 expenses that are more than $50,000 were approved for the 2019-2020 school year, including $9,065,548 for school bus transportation provided by Independent Coach and $6,841,933 for BOCES services.

The next Lawrence Board of Education meeting is Monday, Oct. 7, at Lawrence High School, 2 Reilly Road in Cedarhurst.

Have an opinion on educational topics? Send your letter to the editor to jbessen@liherald.com.